This week on Talk Learn Connect, Wild Alpaca Way owner, John McGonagle shares how his idea became a business and a well-recognised family attraction in Donegal
Where did the idea of an alpaca attraction come from?
I got the idea from speaking to my cousin's husband from Longford in 2019 and he mentioned alpaca trekking in Ireland.
I was intrigued and followed up on this to see what it was all about and decided to open the Wild Alpaca Way in 2019.
We are a family-run business, my three boys, Danny, Sean and Aidan and also my wife, Patricia. We cater to families, couples, team-building groups, hen parties, birthday parties, etc. and if you are not able to do the trek, we can arrange a meet and greet with the alpacas. We have gravel pathways for wheelchair users and people with mobility difficulties.
Why did you pick this particular location?
We bought the land in 2014 as we couldn’t get over the stunning views and we knew it had the potential to be something special.
We are located at the Knockmanny Bens, at the northernmost tip of Ireland in Malin Head with views spanning from Malin Head to Glashedy Rock, extending all the way to the Isle of Doagh and beyond.
If you can imagine exploring the hills of Donegal with your very own Alpaca to guide you – that’s our unique selling point.
"We have many visitors also from Europe, America, and the UK. American tourists love the area as it's steeped in history and traditional folklore"
Where are your alpacas from?
The alpacas are originally from South America, Chile and Peru. We have 40 boys. We bought the first alpacas in Tyrone and Kildare.
Did you know that girl alpacas can be pregnant for 11 and a half months, their fleece is 40 percent warmer, whereas a sheep's fleece is two times lighter. When you shear them in the summertime, it keeps them at 20 degrees the whole summer and keeps them warm and protected in the winter.
Their fiber is exported to the UK to get spun, the texture is so warm and doesn’t catch fire.
How do you manage in the less busy Winter months?
Our busiest time is in the summer months but we have built up a reputation for family day trippers from other counties and Northern Ireland. And they are the customers that keep us going until the Spring and summer time. We have many visitors also from Europe, America, and the UK. American tourists love the area as it's steeped in history and traditional folklore.
If you are traveling towards Malin Head and the Inishowen Penisula, call in and visit the Wild Alpaca Way.
Read reviews and more here - Wild Alpaca Way
You can contact John by email here